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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (April-June) » Killyhevlin vs. Killahevlin « Previous Next »

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Tom Conkey (199.46.199.232 - 199.46.199.232)
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 04:59 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

OK, folks, I'll first apologize that my knowledge of irish is severely limited, so please excuse this ignorant American and answer me in English so that I will understand.

Near the town of Enniskillen in Northern ireland, there is a Hotel named Killyhevlin. Also there is a house that was associated with Castle Coole that is named Killahevlin House. Does anyone know if the different spelling ("a" vs "y") has any significance?

Why do I ask? I'm good friends with the owner of the Killahevlin Bed and Breakfast in Front Royal, Virgina, USA. Killahevlin was a mansion built by one William Carson an Irish immigrant to the US who supposedly named it after his boyhood home "Killyhevlin" in Northern Ireland. I'm very interested in the derivation of names so this drives the question.

Go raibh maith agat.

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ÓBroin anFiach (68.99.27.161 - 68.99.27.161)
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 05:25 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I found this on the Killahevlin B&B website...

http://www.virtualcities.com/ons/va/s/vas1701.htm

Killahevlin Bed and Breakfast is an historic Edwardian Mansion commanding spectacular mountain views. The mansion is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia
Landmarks Register. Builder William Edward Carson, an Irish immigrant and limestone baron, chose the Gaelic name of Killahevlin because of his fond memories of "Killyhevlin" in Northern Ireland, where he spent many happy hours playing with a childhood friend. Killahevlin was designed by the Washington, D.C. architectural firm of A.B. Mullett & Co., whose founder designed the old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.


So, he did the Gaelic form "Cill aHebhlín" Hope that helps a bit..

Tom Byrne

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Aonghus (62.77.191.130 - 62.77.191.130)
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 04:17 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Irish placenames were written down in English letters the way they sounded to the person writing them down, who often spoke no Irish. So you get variations in how an Irish name is rendered in English letters.

Neither can be said to be "more correct"

I have some references at home which may give the Irish form. I'll check.

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Tom Conkey (199.46.198.231 - 199.46.198.231)
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 12:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks for your responses. I find it interesting that two places in close proximity have the "same" names spelled differently. As you say, it is most likely the attempt to force fit an unwritten language into Latin letters. If that's so, then I'll go away happy. If there's an intentional difference, then I'd be curious to know what it is.

I know what the English did to people's names and the names of places. My ancestral name is most probably McConchie. It too was Anglicized in Northern Ireland in the 1700's.

By the way,if anyone is in Front Royal, staying at Killahevlin B&B is quite an astounding experience! www.vairish.com

Tom

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Aonghus (62.77.191.130 - 62.77.191.130)
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 12:24 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Tom,
it is probably the same place name spelt differently.

And your ancestral name, according to this site has a wealth of versions
House of Names

In irish, it is most likely to be Mac Donncha

BTW: Irish has always, since it began to be written, used latin letters. The confusion arises because books were published using special fonts which imitated the hand writing of the monks.

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Tom Conkey (199.46.198.230 - 199.46.198.230)
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 05:52 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks, I believe you are right about the spelling of the place name.

Irish like many ancient languages was spoken long before it was reduced to writing. Saint Cyrril gave the Russian language special characters to represent sounds that were not represented by the Latin alphabet. Ireland was not so lucky and the early writers (of Irish as well as many other ancient languages) had to force-fit the sounds of the language into the Latin alphabet with their own special rules to represent the sounds that were unique to Gaelic. The result is letters that are accented (Fada) and combinations like "bh" that make a sound that isn't really very much like the sounds represented by the Latin alphabet.

Go raibh maith agat

Tom

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Aonghus (62.77.191.130 - 62.77.191.130)
Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - 04:10 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I wasn't able to find a source for the name

The prefix Kill is usually Cill - a cell or chapel; but it may sometimes stand for Coill, a wood.

I found an Antrim name Killeavy which in irish is
Cill Sleibhe - the cell by the mountain (sliabh).

I'm not going to hazard a guess as to the hevlin part of the name, except to remark that the "h" is not the initial letter of the word. An initial H occurs only in a small number of modern loanwords.

Some place name examples to outline the problem:
Templeogue - Teach Mealóg - Mealóg's House
Terenure - Tír an Iubhair - The land of the yew
Nenagh - An Aonach - the Fair

etc..

btw: I disagree that one cannot represent Irish in latin letters. Cyrillic is not necessary for a Slav language - the Poles and Czechs manage fine without.

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Chris Dixon (81.79.118.181 - 81.79.118.181)
Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - 02:32 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde,
Some thoughts on possible etymologies for Killyhevlin/Killahevlin. Plausible, but not necessarily accurate.
Firstly, what Aonghus says about Cill/Coill needs to be borne in mind. A knowledge of local topography and/or history should reveal which of the two is more probable.
Thereafter, we can have Cill Uí Sheibhleáin or Coill Uí Sheibhleáin - the Church or the woodlands of Ó Seibhleáin (Ó Shevlin or the Ó Shevlins).
There are (at least) two possible problems with these readings.
Monastic toponyms, normally combine Cill with the genetive of a Saint's name - as in, for example, Cill Bhríde. Having the genetive of a surname is not impossible - but it would imply that at some stage there was a monastic church there under the stewardship of an Ó Seibhleáin - or an Ó Seibhleáin family. If this was the case, it should show somewhere in old records and prove the case.
The second possible objection to this reading is that the name Ó Seibhleáin is not a common Fermanagh name. It is a Mayo name, although it is sometimes found in Donegal and nowadays quite commonly found in Monaghan.
A more speculative possibility - if there was, for example an ancient Celtic saint named Eibhlín or something similar - then the derivation could be something along the lines of Cill na hEibhlín.
Enough of the speculation though, there is currently a major research project on the Gaeilge place names of Ulster being carried out at the Celtic Studies Department of Queens University Belfast. Unfortunately, they have not yet reached Fermanagh in their investigations (as far as I am aware) but at least this offers hope that we might some day (soon) have a more definitive answer than my speculations.
I nevertheless hope that these will prove helpful.
Beir bua agus beannacht!

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Aonghus (62.77.191.130 - 62.77.191.130)
Posted on Thursday, May 06, 2004 - 09:15 am:   Edit Post Print Post

It is not safe to assume that the Hevlin part is a personal name! Although most names that begin with "Cill" ar followed by the genitive of a personal name, that is not exclusively the case - see the example I gave of Killeavy above.

I'd suggest approaching the Ulster Place Names Society - they may have the authoritative information.
http://www.ulsterplacenames.org/

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